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This Is Not a Test: A Novel Paperback – June 19, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Sloane Price has been raised by an abusive father, and her life is a living nightmare. Her only silver lining is her older sister, her protector and her main source of strength. But Lily runs away, abandoning Sloane and leaving her to deal with the consequences. The past six months of torment have left the teen a shell of her former self and destroyed her will to live. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, she flees one life of horror in exchange for another. Rescued by a group of teenagers, Sloane and company painstakingly make their way across town, finding refuge inside Cortege High School. Huddled behind barricades, the group tries to make sense of the madness outside while grieving for their loved ones-all while hearing the constant thump, thump of the zombies at the doors. This Is Not a Test is a riveting and powerful novel that unfolds through the brutal first-person narrative of Sloane, a broken teen who in many ways is already dead. As the story evolves, the relationships among the characters intensify as they are pushed to the brink of humanity. Summers's brilliant writing has readers confronting their own fears while witnessing what happens to good people when forced to make ruthless decisions in a senseless world. This fascinating and haunting story with sophisticated content and themes will stay with readers long after they finish the last page.-Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“This Is Not a Test is both sexy and desolate, and it will blast a hole through your heart, yet somehow start to stitch it back together again” ―Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds and The Rivals
“Courtney Summers is a ferocious talent in YA fiction. This Is Not a Test brought me to tears, caused me to gasp in shock in public places, and almost put a stop to my heart . . . Summers' voice is raw with emotion, and utterly right for the impending zombie apocalypse.” ―Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls
“[Courtney Summers] blends all the perfection and simplicity that defines her writing so well with this added paranormal element for a snappy, exciting story I just couldn't stop reading, and then I got to the very end and realized that it was about so much more than just making it out alive.” ―Julie Cross, author of Tempest
“Intriguing.... It takes some artistic guts to set a portrayal of a suicidal teenager amid attacking zombies, but Summers has a history of risky choices.... Unusual and absorbing.” ―Kirkus
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Top customer reviews
We meet Sloane in the beginning of the book, as she explains a bit of her life, as the walking dead literally start breaking down her door. She escapes and the book jumps 7 days later, when she has been picked up by the group and they are safely inside the school. The story then flips back and worth, retelling the events that occurred while the group made their way across town to the local high school. The story is told from Sloan's perspective and you realize quite quickly what her mindset is throughout this zombie apocalypse. This books tells the story of how the characters survive once they are holed up in the high school together, day to day and then when bigger events take place.
I have read a lot of apocalyptic books and this one was much different from the majority that I have read. Although the end of the world scenario is much different, it reminded me a lot like Z for Zachariah (http://amzn.to/1WaDzp8). The author seemed to focus a lot on character development and I felt we really to know Sloane, Rhys and the rest of the characters quite well. I also enjoyed the fact that this book wasn't all action, all the time. I liked the mixed elements and I was never bored with any part of the book. It was a much different way to write this kind of novel. This is the second book I have read by Courtney Summers and just like the first, I really liked this one as well. There is also a 100 page e-book, that is the follow up to this called, Please Remain Calm. I am hoping that the author is planning on writing a second, full length novel as a follow up to the first.
Summers has this amazing ability to basically destroy every single plan you’ve made for a day as soon as you read the first page of her books. This Is Not A Test completely grabbed me by the throat and dragged me around kicking and screaming right form the first page – I was hooked before I’d even reached chapter one. The opening sequence of this book was intense – there is no other word for it. It doesn’t get any better from there to tell you the truth. We’re thrown straight into this complete chaotic mess of the world, starting with a regular morning in Sloane – our protagonist’s life – and then we’re off to the races as it were. There is no break, no time to catch your breath. While certain scenes might not be physically brutal or taxing, those in between the fights for survival are filled with emotional battles that are almost more intense than the ones against the zombies or even each other. This book… just wow.
Sloane. I don’t even know what to say about Sloane. When we first meet her, she has no intention of wanting to live. Her sister abandoned her to an abusive father. The world is ending. She is alone. She wants to die – but she holds on. She holds on despite her best efforts to have it end any other way than with her own survival. It was a very strange, eye opening experience – reading a book from the point of view from someone that doesn’t even want to be there. I am so used to a strong, badass heroine doing everything in their power to keep on kicking – and Sloane was the complete opposite. She is still badass, ruthless, and utterly compelling – but for entirely different reasons. She will make you think. She will make you question everything you’ve ever thought about what it means to survive.
Then there are the other students: Cary, Rhys, Trace, Grace, and Harrison. All of them end up trapped together in the high school. They are together, struggling to survive… and boy, do they add to the story. I think this is part of Summers’ mastery – she has this ability to make supporting characters who are so raw and undeniably essential. We get to know them all. We see them cry, we learn their weakness and their vulnerabilities. They are all simply exposed in this new version of hell. It was heartbreaking. I’m still trying to figure out just how I feel about all of them because they just add so much. They turn an already harrowing scenario into a full throttle mental mine field just waiting to blow up at the slightest provocation. The addition of the supporting characters, and the role each individual plays, really nails down the main question of this book. Who is the real enemy? What if the real enemy is you?
Courtney Summers has once again created something worthy of every possible award known to man. This Is Not A Test will make you question everything you think you know about yourself and what you think you are willing to do to survive. This book will rip your chest open and never let the wound close. What are you willing to do to survive and can you live with the answer?
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